Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BRAVO ZULU to YOU....US Navy Jeep posts a record month in November....

Bravo Zulu - This is a naval signal, conveyed by flaghoist or voice radio, meaning "well done"; it has also passed into the spoken and written vocabulary....

BRAVO ZULU to you, the readers of this Milblog, as there has been over 5000 pageviews for this Milblog in the month of November...Actually 5,044 pageviews to be precise...

You have my respect, appreciation and humble thanks for taking time to read my words and share in the info I post here.....


I'm a big fan of the Sci-Fi genre and Star Wars has a share of great role-models to those who look beyond the special effects to see who the characters really are...

Obi-Wan Kenobi is my personal favorite as his character has the qualities of being honorable and making sure that he leads by example...

One of my favorite lines by Obi-Wan is when he is trying to figure out why Ankin has trouble standing still for even a moment....He surveys his young padawan learner jumping into the fray and mutters, " Always on the move..."

Recently, that seems to be my personal motto.....always on the move....I'll be on the move traveling to NYC on business....

This necessitates not being able to post for the next two days.....sorry about that but duty calls.....

Let's hope the meetings go better for me than they seem to go for Obi-Wan

Bomb dogs see action in Afghanistan

U.S. Army Spc. David Walls of Warren, Mich., mine detection dog handler, 49th Engineer Detachment, relaxes with Sergeant Homer, a mine detection dog, after a mine-proofing sweep at the Russian Grain Silo Combat Outpost, Kandahar, Afghanistan. The COP is the intended site of a 10 mega-watt power plant that will provide electricity to the western side of Kandahar. Walls and Homer are deployed to Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan.

I am glad that Man's Best Friend is out there, assisting our troops...I always enjoyed seeing the working dogs in Kandahar and other FOBs in Afghanistan....They are true Veterans and as valuable as any other member of the fighting force...Hats off to our K-9 Vets !!!

Bomb dogs see action in Afghanistan

By Michael Reinsch
ISAF Joint Command

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan
- A mine detection dog was requested to sweep an area near Kandahar City and Spc. David Walls, 49th Engineering Detachment Mine Detection Dog handler, and his dog Sgt. Homer answered the call.

Naval Mobile Construction Detachments 40 and 18, along with the 557th Engineer Company and 864th Engineer Battalion, began razing the ground around an abandoned Soviet grain silo to make way for a future power plant. Since the area was once occupied by a force known for using land mines, a mine detection system was needed to declare the area safe before construction could begin.

U.S. Army Spc. David Walls of Warren, Mich., mine detection dog handler, 49th Engineer Detachment, oversees Sergeant Homer, a mine detection dog, as he performs a mine-proofing sweep at the Russian Grain Silo Combat Outpost, Kandahar, Afghanistan. The COP is the intended site of a 10 mega-watt power plant that will provide electricity to the western side of Kandahar. Walls and Homer are deployed to Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan. Samuel Padilla, ISAF Joint Command

Although the military has several pieces of equipment to detect mines and other explosives, none are as quickly placed in the field for use than the mine detection dog. These dogs are capable of detecting unexploded ordinance nearly 100 percent of the time.

“The MDD can detect odors of land mines, UXOs, and explosives through scent detection combined with the moisture in the air. The moisture helps facilitate the detection,” said Walls. “The handler must also be able to read the MDDs demeanor and signals while searching. Training the MDD and the handler takes just under six months.”

Walls and Homer have a bond that is needed for this demanding job. They share the same cot, water source, and long runs together. Originally, Walls enlisted into the military as a combat engineer and was selected to be a dog handler during his advanced individual training. He has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as an MDD and specialized search dog handler.

“I have had 16 combat finds in Iraq to include IEDs and weapons caches,” said Walls. “I’m the only handler in the Department of Defense to have dual combat finds with MDD and SSD.”
Approximately 22,960 sq. ft. of ground around the silo was searched for UXOs and explosives. That’s more than four football fields.

“Where else in the world do you get paid to play with dogs and have a great time with your best friend?” Walls asked. “I get the best of both worlds on a daily bases by working with my Homer and keeping troops safe and uninjured. Who could ask for anything more

The XM25 - A perfect weapon for street-to-street fighting - a "game-changer "

LOVE THE TECHNOLOGY....This is the stuff that will give us an edge out there....Brilliant!

From the UK Daily Mail

No hiding place from new U.S. Army rifles that use radio-controlled smart bullets
By Daily Mail Reporter
8:25 AM on 30th November 2010

Weapon hailed as a game-changer that can fire up and over barriers and down into trenches

Soldiers will start using them in Afghanistan later this month

The U.S. army is to begin using a futuristic rifle that fires radio-controlled 'smart' bullets in Afghanistan for the first time, it has emerged.

The XM25 rifle uses bullets that be programmed to explode when they have travelled a set distance, allowing enemies to be targeted no matter where they are hiding.
The rifle also has a range of 2,300 feet making it possible to hit target which are well out of the reach of conventional rifles.

The XM25 is being developed specially for the U.S. army and will be deployed with troops from later this month, it was revealed today.

The XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System has a range of roughly 2,300 feet - and is to be deployed in Afghanistan this month

The rifle's gunsight uses a laser rangefinder to determine the exact distance to the obstruction, after which the soldier can add or subtract up to 3 metres from that distance to enable the bullets to clear the barrier and explode above or beside the target.

Soldiers will be able to use them to target snipers hidden in trenches rather than calling in air strikes.

The 25-millimetre round contains a chip that receives a radio signal from the gunsight as to the precise distance to the target.

Lt. Col. Christopher Lehner, project manager for the system, described the weapon as a ‘game-changer’ that other nations will try and copy.

He expects the Army to buy 12,500 of the XM25 rifles this year, enough for every member of the infantry and special forces.

Lehner told FoxNews: ‘With this weapon system, we take away cover from [enemy targets] forever.

‘Tactics are going to have to be rewritten. The only thing we can see [enemies] being able to do is run away.’

Experts say the rifle means that enemy troops will no longer be safe if they take cover

The XM25 appears perfect weapon for street-to-street fighting that troops in Afghanistan have to engage in, with enemy fighters hiding behind walls and only breaking cover to fire ocasionally.

The weapon's laser finder would work out how far away the enemy was and then the U.S. soldier would add one metre using a button near the trigger. When fired, the explosive round would carry exactly one metre past the wall and explode with the force of a hand grenade above the Taliban fighter.

The army's project manager for new weapons, Douglas Tamilio, said: ''This is the first leap-ahead technology for troops that we've been able to develop and deploy.'
A patent granted to the bullet's maker, Alliant Techsystems, reveals that the chip can calculate how far it has travelled.

Mr Tamilio said: 'You could shoot a Javelin missile, and it would cost £43,000. These rounds will end up costing £15.50 apiece. They're relatively cheap.

Lehner added: ‘This is a game-changer. The enemy has learned to get cover, for hundreds if not thousands of years.

‘Well, they can't do that anymore. We're taking that cover from them and there's only two outcomes: We're going to get you behind that cover or force you to flee.’

The rifle will initially use high-explosive rounds, but its makers say that it might later use versions with smaller explosive charges that aim to stun rather than kill.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Soldier's Night Before Christmas

God Bless all who are away from home and in harm's way.

All our hopes & prayers that they arrive home safe & sound.

Concord, MA still produces Patriots - " I believe in giving back to my country. A lot of what I and my family have today is due to this country "

The Battle of Lexington & Concord was the start of the War for Independence...The citizens there are much like many of us from Massachusetts - Proud of our Colonial Heritage and that we live where " The Shot Heard Round the World " happened on April 19, 1775.

Now here is the story of another Patriot from this same neck of the woods....As long as our Country produces Men of this caliber, we will be able to handle the problems we face.

Wounded in Afghanistan; Home for the Holidays
Concord-Carlisle, Westpoint graduate injured by an IED, awarded Purple Heart.

By Betsy Levinson November 24, 2010 Concordpatch.com

He says he'd be back there tomorrow. It just doesn't feel right that he's at home while the men of his platoon are fighting in Afghanistan.

But Concord's Kyle Snook is far from Kandahar Air Base and the platoon he commanded after an accident in September shattered his right foot and could have cost him his life.

Snook says he is a changed person after nearly losing a limb. He stepped on an IED, or improvised explosive device, while positioning his men to return fire in an area south of the only paved highway in the whole country: Highway One.

Snook is a 2004 graduate of Concord-Carlisle High School and Westpoint, '08 where he majored in operations research. After graduating, he was a commissioned officer in the Army. That's the way it is with the Snooks.

His mother, Kathleen, is a 1980 Westpoint graduate, along with his dad, Scott, '80; his brother Sean, '07; sister Megan, '11 and brother Robbie who is now a freshman at the military academy. Kathleen was in the first class to admit women in 1976. Above the house are two banners welcoming Kyle and his brother, Sean, home. Sean was uninjured after his tour in Afghanistan.

But Kyle said his parents did not push Westpoint on him. "If anything, they discouraged me," he said. "At least it made me analyze it deeper."

"It was the place for me," he said. "I believe in giving back to my country. A lot of what I and my extended family have today is due to this country." He encourages civic service, but doesn't want it mandated because then it wouldn't be as special.
Last May, Snook was shipped to Ft. Benning, GA before settling at Ft. Campbell, KY. He was a platoon leader with about 25 to 35 men in his command. He spent a year training with his platoon for their deployment, flying to Kandahar on May 20.
"I volunteered to go early to get the ground ready for the platoon," he said. He had no dependents, while some of the other guys were married with children.

"It was not what I expected," he said, dressed in casual slacks and a polo shirt with a large cast and bandaging on his foot. Pins to position the foot bones stick out while the foot heals.

"(Kandahar Air Base) is a massive place; massive infrastructure," he said. "It is a walled city. I was caught off-guard by how safe everyone felt there. It was pretty laid back."

Snook was part of President Obama's troop surge designed to root the Taliban out of southern Afghanistan. Highway One was the dividing line, Snook said. His mission was to "regain control of Highway One and cut off the Taliban supply route north."

He said the fighting started in September owing to the "fighting seasons." In the summer, it's so hot that the foreign fighters go home to Pakistan or other country to wait for cooler weather.

"We had an extreme problem with the heat," he said.

Another issue was mobility, he said. The fields south of Highway One are planted with grapes that are set in four- to six- foot mud mounds with a thick canopy of fruit above them. So the soldiers had to either traverse the rows between plants and possibly miss the enemy, or climb up and over the mounded grape plants with poppies or other crops growing around the bottom.

From June to September, Snook said they spent time getting to know the locals who had largely left their farms and headed north to safer ground.

"September 26 was our first day on our mission," said Snook. "We were two hours into our 10-day operation to clear the area." Clearing meant destroying the mud houses so the enemy would have no place to go. He said they proceeded along "ditch lines," or irrigation streams that are approximately 100 meters apart.

"We were clearing between the second and third ditch line," said Snook. "We had a loudspeaker, and a translator who would give a 10-minute countdown before we leveled a house." He said Afghan President Hamid Karzai's policy was to have an Afghan soldier enter all houses first to make sure no one was there.

"We got to the third house and did the call out," he said. "We were shot at from the south. There were pings across my helmet." He ordered return fire, and searched for a place to hide, finding a wall about 10 meters away. As he ran to the wall, he stepped on an IED hidden below the ground.

The guys said he rocketed about 10 or 12 feet in the air before crashing down, unconscious. When he came to, he had to somehow get back to the men, so he arched his back and scrambled without the use of his right leg which was mangled.
"The pain was mind-numbing," said Snook.

He later found out that he may have caught a break. The IED was likely placed somewhat ineffectively in the ground. The top part exploded as Snook trod on it, but the 40 lbs. of explosives that are normally tripped from the top part did not. That flaw probably saved his life.

His leg was splinted in the field. His foot was fractured in eight places, three toes were broken, his heel broken and a key metatarsal bone was destroyed. He was flown first to Kandahar then on Oct. 1, back to Ft. Campbell.

Snook faces a 12 to 15-month recovery now, and he starts physical therapy in January. He sees a doctor at Westpoint every two weeks. The pins come out of his foot in January too. He was awarded a Purple Heart for bravery.

But Snook takes that part of the story in stride. For him, it's all about the Army and the men of his platoon still fighting.

"I would go back tomorrow," he said with a wan smile. "I am taking things one day at a time now. Life looks a little different to me. At 24, I have realized the finality of life. I have a different perspective on everything."

It will be a grand Thanksgiving at his house, with Sean and Kyle, Megan and Robbie around the table, but at the same time, the battlefield will be close at hand

Help support Military Working Dogs - www.supportmilitaryworkingdogs.org

US Navy Jeep supports our K-9 Veterans as they are vital to assisting the troops and keeping our military safe.....Enclosed is info on a charity that provides cooling vests for deployed K-9s...it gets pretty hot over there in the Middle east and Afghanistan.....think what the poor pups go through.

Their mission is simple - To provide cooling vests, and other protective gear such as Doggles, MuttLuks, and any other necessary gear to help the Military Working Dogs in Iraqs extreme conditions, who in turn protect and serve our Soldiers.

Read the enclosed and see what you can do to assist this great effort.

Military dogs need funding help
Military mother shows off dog's skills to students
Monday, 15 Nov 2010, 6:27 AM EST

ENON, Ohio (WDTN) - Students at Hustead School in Clark County were excited to hear what Starline Nunley had to say and maybe even more excited to see her dog Tushpa on Thursday.

Tushpa is not trained for military missions, but Nunley, who's son is a soldier, wants people to know that there are dogs who are saving soldiers' lives in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and they need help.

The dogs sniff for bombs and perform search and rescue missions and provide therapy for the soldiers.

The dogs are protected with vests that keep their core body temperature below 103 degrees; doggles that protect their eyes from sand and shrapnel; and paw protectors.

If you would like to help military dogs you can do so by using Nunley's web site,

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Return of Army Sgt. surprises family as 70,000 cheer

As with many things, rivalries are one thing, and loyalty to others is a completely different subject...."ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT" is the mantra that all services practice as we are all in this together.

Being a loyal New England Patriots fan and Navy Vet doesn't stop me from cheering on this Army Sgt. who surprised his family at the Titans game by returning early from deployment and surprising his family as 70,000 fans cheered them on....awesome.

From The Army Times -

Return of Sgt. surprises family as 70,000 cheer

By Erin Quinn - The Tennessean
Posted : Tuesday Nov 23, 2010 15:30:40 EST

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jodi Foster thought she was in the middle of LP Field simply as the winner of an essay contest she and her Army sergeant husband had won for a Veterans Day contest that the Tennessee Titans put on.

Sgt. Mark Foster was in Afghanistan, where he had been deployed eight months ago.

But he returned in a golf cart Sunday with bundles of yellow and red roses as 70,000 people at the football game cheered.

Jodi and their 12-year-old daughter, Kayla, ran to him.

As Jodi and Kayla clung to each side of their big, strong Army sergeant, the three walked off the field. The fans stood and clapped. Toby Keith’s “American Soldier” blared from the speakers.

“It was like prom night,” said the sergeant stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., who is home for two weeks before he goes back to his fifth deployment. “I was so nervous. It was like my wedding day all over again.”

"Awesome use of the technology, Dude" - Hollywood makes it possible to film you & your younger self together in a movie....

" Awesome use of the technology, Dude"

The movie makers have been pushing the envelope for some time....now, they have developed the ability to have an actor portray himself and a younger version of himself simultaneously....The old joke about the Government or some other shadow agency create a movie of you committing a crime as blackmail is a very real possibility now as this technology could make it possible to show you stealing the Crown Jewels...Let's hope no one thinks about how this type of technology could have a real down-side....let's hope they just stick to making sci-fi movies like TRON....that's something I can get into.

'This technology means I'd never have to work again in my life and I could still make films': Jeff Bridges returns in Tron - Daily Mail 11/28/10

It's the sort of plot Hollywood's been banging on about for years... but now it's suddenly become real: technology that takes 30 years off an actor. As Jeff Bridges reveals what it's like to be given back his youth in the new Tron movie, we can all reflect: why not Sean Connery for the next 007? I can play someone at any age. It's the beginning of a new era of film-making,' said Jeff Bridges on the sequel to Tron

I’m a pretty lazy guy,’ Jeff Bridges announces.
‘I spend most of my time avoiding work. Honestly, I do my best to turn everything down...’

His drive to make movies has been replaced by a desire to stay at home with Susan, his wife of 33 years, play the guitar, listen to country music and indulge his passions for photography and ceramics at their 20-acre ranch in Santa Barbara, California.

The irony is that the few roles Bridges accepts invariably result in exceptional performances. He won this year’s Best Actor Oscar for his poignant portrayal of the gruff, dissipated country-music star Bad Blake in Crazy Heart, and at 60 he’s more in demand than ever.

‘The more I say no the more great roles I get offered. But I know the effort it takes once you engage and commit. Also, it takes me away from my sweetheart, my leading lady. My wife tells me we’ve been apart 11 months this past year because of movies.’

Bridges’ latest film is an epic: Disney’s futuristic $300 million sci-fi sequel Tron: Legacy, out on December 17. He stars as video-game visionary Kevin Flynn, a character he first played almost 30 years ago.

The original Tron, released in 1982, sees computer hacker Flynn being abducted into the world of a computer and forced to participate in gladiatorial games. Tron: Legacy follows Flynn’s son, who gets sucked into the digital universe and discovers his long-lost father trapped by his father’s best ever creation, the Machiavellian program Clu 2 (a digital version of Bridges in his thirties).

‘He’s the first actor in cinematic history to play opposite a younger version of himself,’ says visual-effects supervisor Eric Barba.

New technology enabled film-makers to record the star’s facial movements in minute detail and then superimpose them onto a digital model of his younger self.

'I always wanted to be a painter or a musician,' said the Oscar-winning actor

For Bridges, the development marks a new epoch in cinema.

‘Whenever I see a big, epic film where the character has aged from being a boy to an old man, traditionally there are different actors playing him and there’s always a little bump for me when they change from one actor to the next. But now I can play someone at any age. It’s the beginning of a new era of film-making.

‘This technology means I’d never have to work again in my life and I could still make films. I can say, “I’ll lease you my image.” In a few years they’ll be able to take aspects of three different actors and make a fourth character. It’s getting weird. They can say, “Let’s put Bridges in here, but I want a little Al Pacino in there – what the heck. Let’s see what kind of guy we come up with.” I think they’ll have this ability to go, “We’re going to give you lots of money; you just come in and do all your expressions, be real, sad, happy… and that’s it.”’

Is he joking?

‘No, this is where movies are starting to go now. They’re taking the actors and putting them in a computer, very much like Tron. It’s got to the stage where we’re close to not having to work at all.’

We’re meeting at Digital Domain, close to Venice Beach in LA, the special-effects studio where Bridges has been recording expressions for the younger version of himself. There’s an almost empty glass of red wine on the table and a jug of water with two glasses (the Disney team have warned me that the eco-conscious actor loathes plastic bottles).

Close up, Bridges looks rugged and healthy, wearing a casual, untucked denim shirt, jeans and boots; the blond Californian good looks have matured. Was it strange seeing the younger version of himself?

‘Not too much, because I see myself a lot in my old movies. My wife was very critical of the digital image at first. She was honing in on the features of my face that she knows so well, but in the end she thought they did a pretty good job.’

Saturday, November 27, 2010

BRIT Soldier throws himself on a grenade and saves his fellow soldiers...Brilliant.

A British Soldier recounts the day he triggered a trip wire and heard a grenade hit the ground right near his feet.....What happened next is the stuff of luck & legend....This Brit must have been born under a four-leaf clover....or maybe a bushel full of them....Good Show. Just Brilliant

There is info at the end of the story about the award that he will receive...The George Cross. Sounds like he deserved that & more.

Experience: I threw myself on to an exploding grenade' - There was a pinging noise, familiar to anyone who's ever pulled the pin from a grenade. I had walked into a tripwire'

Matt Croucher
The Guardian, Saturday 27 November 2010

I joined the Royal Marines when I was 16 – I'd grown up wanting to be a soldier, to be part of an elite force. I'd served two tours of duty in Iraq before I was sent to Afghanistan, where the sense of ever-present danger – of actually being at war – was far more intense.

While there, I was involved in some of the fiercest fighting. But the one point when I thought, "This is it, I'm about to die", when there was no doubt in my mind, came in the early hours of 9 February 2008.

It was dark and I was silently searching a compound we suspected was being used by the Taliban to make bombs. I sensed a slight tension against my shin, the kind of feeling you'd get walking into a bramble bush. But there was no shrubbery around us, only grass and dirt. At the same time there was a pinging noise, familiar to anyone who's ever pulled the pin from a grenade.

I had walked into a tripwire. Looking down, I saw the primed grenade at my feet. I shouted to the rest of my group, "Grenade! Take cover!" but there was barely time for the others to react. I suppose it was partly a sense of responsibility that made me act the way I did. Since I had set the thing off, it felt as if it was up to me to rectify the situation. Tearing my day sack off one shoulder, I jammed it against the grenade and then lay beside it in the foetal position, to create a barrier between it and the other guys.

It felt like being five years old and riding your bike into your dad's brand new car, leaving a dent – that gut-wrenching feeling as you wait for the consequences. I knew I had perhaps four or five seconds until detonation, and I counted them down in my head. I'd reached seven or eight, and was about to relax, when it went off.

As the plumes of orange sparks and the smoke cleared, I knew, at least, that I was still alive. But the blast had deposited me, face down, several feet away and there was still the awful possibility that I might reach down and find a leg missing.

When lads receive a traumatic injury, they don't always realise. I've seen people trying to get up and simply falling over, because they've lost one or both their legs.

The patrol medic ran over and gave me a head-to-toe check. I was disoriented, and there was a lot of blood coming out of my nose and ears, but he told me that I seemed fine, apart from a few cuts and bruises. My eardrums had been perforated, but there was no lasting damage. My backpack and body armour had absorbed most of the impact of the explosion, and my helmet was peppered with grenade fragments. The backpack had been torn clean off my back and lay in tatters 10 metres away. None of the others had suffered anything more serious than minor shrapnel wounds.

The lads took me to see our commanding officer and told him what I'd done. He was incredibly relieved and asked me how I was feeling. I felt a little fragile and had a terrible headache, but that was it.

People react to extreme situations in many different ways, and I've never been one to dwell or retreat into myself, nor do I suffer from post-traumatic shakes, as some do. My inclination is simply to move on and get on with the job, so that's what I did – we spent the next couple of hours quizzing men from neighbouring compounds and returning the fire of a nearby sniper. Afterwards, a check-up in the hospital at Camp Bastion confirmed that I'd sustained no lasting damage.

I was rather shocked when I learned I was going to receive the George Cross for conspicuous courage – apparently the first one to be awarded to a marine since the second world war. I've undoubtedly had my own life saved by other lads' quick thinking, and on that particular day it was simply my turn. That's just how you get through each day. I don't give my award a second look now. It's a replica, of course – the real medal's valued at £200,000, so it's kept at the Imperial War Museum.

You might say I've used up my nine lives, but it doesn't really work that way. I know people who have been killed or badly injured just two weeks out of training, while others can last for months in conflict zones without so much as a scratch. It's something I try not to dwell on too much – I can't afford to; I'd do it all again if I was asked to

The George Cross

The George Cross (GC) is the highest civil decoration of the United Kingdom, and also holds, or has held, that status in many of the other countries of the Commonwealth of Nations.[1] The GC is the civilian counterpart of the Victoria Cross (VC) and the highest gallantry award for civilians as well as for military personnel in actions which are not in the face of the enemy or for which purely military honours would not normally be granted.[2] However, the VC is higher in the order of wear and would be worn first by an individual who had been awarded both decorations (which has not so far occurred).

Friday, November 26, 2010

Time to Rock Out....U2 performs " ONE " live from Chicago

Weekend is here....Been a significant week with events and issues that make you glad to have all that you are blessed with in this life......This song has a great message....kick back and take a listen...

Figured it is a good time to rock out...A righteous version of a great U2 song...ONE live from Chicago....Take it away lads....

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, a.k.a DARKHORSE and one Marine's POV of the Battle in Sangin

The time I spent in Fallujah has shaped my life. It is hard not to think about it when you hear about the difficulties that the Marines are dealing with in Afghanistan. The death of Lt Robert Kelly in Sangin on November 9th demonstrated how tough the battle can be as he and many other good men will give the ultimate sacrifice, not unlike those who paid for Fallujah in the same manner.

Here is a good account, filled with straight-up-in-your-face Marine-Speak. This is one Marine's point-of-view of the 3/5, The 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, a.k.a DARKHORSE.

SEMPER FI Marines....show'em how it's done.

Sangin, the Fallujah of Afghanistan, and what it means to your Marines
Wednesday, November 24, 2010 -

By David J. Morris
Best Defense red cell correspondent

Heroes and myths die hard among fighting men. The troops love them for the added dimension they provide to the savage grind of field life, the feeling they can give a guy that tells him that he is part of a grand saga, something that will outlive his own individual destiny. Eccentric heroes and acts of valor exist for those who need them most as evidence that a greater depth to life is possible, that sacrifice can have meaning. That, with luck, they will be remembered by history. And yet, for some reason, outside of the ranks such ideas about heroism and destiny never fail to come across as anything other than primitive fantasy, the sort of thing that if brought up in conversation at certain hipster parties will cause people to stare at you as if you had just given them a Hitler salute.

Nevertheless, these are exactly the sorts of ideals that are being tested in extremis in Sangin, a small town in southern Afghanistan where a single unit, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, has been fighting to make good on all on the hot talk about the new, improved, industrial-strength Surge and the Undeniable Genius of David Petraeus and has, as a direct result, suffered some of the worst casualties in recent history, losses of a magnitude that haven't been seen since the darkest days of the Iraqi insurgency, indicative of a vicious, locked-in fight beginning to collapse in on itself like a dying star, annihilating anything that drifts too close. Fifteen killed. Forty-nine wounded. Nearly seven percent of the entire battalion dead or wounded. All in just thirty days.

Of course, to the average American, there is nothing, absolutely nothing new here. In an age of stereotypes, what is a Marine battalion other than a gang of unfortunates and semi-literate savages, all of them hailing no doubt, from the unwashed, Jesus-addled, gun-loving middle of the country, colliding head-on into the hard facts of life for the non-college-bound? Sacrifice is for saps, so the thinking goes, God knows why people go into the service these days and to take anything more than a passing interest in the whole awful show is to somehow be complicit in it.

Still, whatever else may be wrong and misguided about the war, like the inadequacy of the Iraq-centric techniques being applied to a scene that bears little resemblance on a tribal level to that country, there is something immutable, almost Homeric, happening in Sangin. It's the story of a unit filled with boys far, far from home, consumed by ideals older than the Old Testament about death, honor and human destiny.

Within the tight-knit world of the Marine grunt, 3/5 occupies a unique position. It has seen more combat than probably any unit in the Corps and been rightly decorated for it: its members have been awarded seven Navy Crosses, more than any other Marine battalion by a significant margin. At one point, there were more Navy Cross winners from 3/5 than winners of the equivalent army award in the entire U.S. Army. During the second battle for Fallujah in November 2004, it spearheaded the offensive, seizing the notorious Jolan neighborhood, home to some of the war's most hardened insurgents and took twenty-one dead. Marines from other units have been known to talk about "Darkhorse" as 3/5 is known, with a mixture of awe and gratitude, awe at their combat record and gratitude that their unit hadn't suffered as many casualties as they had.

Of course, there was more to it than just Glory and Honor and local Iraqis, understandably, harbored certain convictions about Darkhorse. At the height of the 2007 Surge, as 3/5 was preparing to return to Fallujah, this time for occupation duty, the local Iraqi police force caught wind of it and complained to their American counterparts, demanding that anybody else other than "the butchers of Fallujah" be allowed to patrol their city. Even the Marines who 3/5 was set to replace had their doubts.

And for some Darkhorse Marines, the battalion has, at times, come to feel like an electron shit magnet, the worst sort of hard luck outfit, a unit where even the biggest storehouse of personal karma was sure to taxed to the limit, or beyond, out into that dim country where a guy begins to think of his own life as something not to be taken too seriously, death the final trip, something to be savored first-hand. Let it bleed, son, let it bleed.

When I was first embedded with 3/5 in 2006, one lance corporal complained, "We always get the shit assignments." Now, a reporter who spent any time at all in Iraq was sure to hear this sort of talk from tired grunts, it was the kind of personal Delta blues that all soldiers lapse into from time-to-time, but in this case, the Marine had a point: the day I'd arrived at their camp in Habbaniyah, word was just beginning to filter in about two of the battalion's most popular Marines who had been killed by an IED, including the gunner for the battalion commander's vehicle, a burly, joke-a-minute surfer named Morrow. Hard times are the lingua franca of the Corps, there has never been any doubt on that point, but this just seemed somehow unfair.

Standing there sweating in the battalion adjutant's office that afternoon, taking in the grim news, I could feel the heat and anger the Marines around me were giving off like an invisible sun. The fraternal mystery of the Corps never ran deeper for me than it did on that day.

And what a mystery! The idiosyncrasies that make 3/5 and the Marines in general unique were the very things that many reporters and soldiers in Iraq found outrageous and even criminal. If you'd just spent a couple months embedded in Anbar and then dropped back into Baghdad with say, the 1st or the 4th Infantry Division, you were likely to get this:

"Where'd you come from?"

"Out west, AO Denver."

"With the fucking Marines? I know how they do it, it's like 'hey diddle-diddle, straight up the middle!' -- F**k that, man!"

And on a certain level, it was hard to argue with them. There was always some vague, unexplainable feeling that came with being embedded with the Marines. Call it bad fate or bad luck or a conviction that living up to your own mythology was more important than living at all, but Marine units I've embedded with have always borne a different relationship with death than any army unit I spent time with. The GIs would gripe good-naturedly about all the close calls they'd had, treating death like some carping, churlish creditor, something to be resisted, staved off, for sure, but in the end, something to be ignored if at all possible. But among many of the Marines I patrolled alongside -- and 3/5 certainly stands paramount among these -- there was a tendency to get hip to the madness, the horror and rot of it, to embrace the darker angels of human nature to a degree that made your skin flush hot for a moment until you remembered that they were the ones watching your back after all, and for you and your admittedly-selfish purposes, that was a generally good thing. Madness, mythology, bad midnight sweats, these are all temporary things, no? But death, that thing, that other thing that happened to some and not to others and no, no, not to you, never to you, that thing was permanent. It was a little bit of warped, hard Chicago faith that some guys would inevitable come up with, living proof of what Sinatra was reputed to have said to a struggling alcoholic friend of his: "Whatever gets you through the night, pal." Selah.

But -- and this must be admitted -- the mythology works both ways. To the old mujaheddin fighting the Marines in Sangin, the town must seem something like the Alamo, a place to stand and die, a treasured redoubt where a piece of eternity resides. Just like armies, places grow their own mythologies like ivy around old academic buildings and Sangin has long been a trophy to the muj.

The British Royal Marines patrolled the town for almost five years and never quite got their arms around it, and in the end, the town accounted for fully one-third of all British casualties in Afghanistan. And according to the NATO commander at the time, the troops there saw "the fiercest fighting involving British troops since the Korean War."

I suspect it would shock the hell out of a lot of Marines to learn how much they have in common with the men they are fighting. It's like what Mao said: one invariably comes to resemble one's enemies. But then, for a young man in the heat of events, this is the most inconvenient of truths and one that can only be taught over the decades and only if he survives the war. It's the same lesson that the first banzai charges taught the men of the First Marine Division on Guadalcanal, what Pacific War vet William Manchester and author of Goodbye, Darkness, learned when he looked into the eyes of a Japanese veteran of Okinawa at an observance forty-two years afterward: in the end we learn and are shaped by our enemies and we take on similar mythologies, because, if for no other reason than the current apathetic state of America, who else could know you better, what you've been through, other than the guy who called you there and remade you and stayed with you through to the end?

David J. Morris is a former Marine officer and the author of Storm on the Horizon: Khafji -- The Battle that Changed the Course of the Gulf War (Free Press). His work has appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Slate and The Best American Nonrequired Reading series

HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY with Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang.....

The Peanuts gang celebrating as only they can...Happy Thanksgiving Day !

Holiday Season in full swing along with Drunk Drivers....at the scene of an arrest for DWI just down the street from my house last night

No lack of action in my neck of the woods...last night about 22:30 hours, a knucklehead drunk driver came down the road and managed to run off the road. In doing so he plowed into a space between a telephone pole and a wire stanchion, hooking the bumper of his truck on the wires...

The initial crash awakened me as I was just dozing off and then the sound of the guy trying to work his truck off the wires got me outta bed and outside just as a Police Car showed up on the scene....The guy was still trying to extricate his truck off the pole when the cop got out of his cruiser and ordered the guy out of his truck with his weapon drawn. The guy obeyed the cop and got out....He was placed under arrest but asked to be taken to the hospital....what an idjit.

Enclosed are pics from the scene....a local developer wants to stack 70 units of housing into an old factory site across the street in the next year which would overcrowd the area....Last night's stupidity is a good example of the reason why until the town fixes the issues on my street,(speeding, bad road surface, lack of traffic plan) adding many more units of housing here would be a disaster.

Also, just a general reminder - Take it slow out there and for God's sake, and for the sake of your fellow man, if you have a drink, DON'T DRIVE.

The life you save might be your own or more importantly, that of an innocent person who happens to get in your line-of-fire....There is no justification for this type of stupidity.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Desperate Crossing....The Untold Story of the Mayflower....an overview of how tough the Pilgrims had it when they arrived in the New World

Being from a family with longstanding lineage in Massachusetts, Thanksgiving Day has always been a special day as we live in the shadow of the Plymouth Colony in SE Massachusetts.

My family's first ancestor arrived in Weymouth, MA in 1635, 15 years after the Pilgrims. While we cannot claim Mayflower heritage, I have found the compelling story of how the Pilgrims actually came to be on the shores of Plymouth was given a true overview in the History Channel's three-hour docudrama,
"Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower."

I watched this great show a few years ago, with historical detail taken from the actual Pilgrim's diaries. It was a good overview of how tough the pilgrims had it and how poorly they were prepared for what awaited them in the new world.

In addition to providing an enlightening picture of the Pilgrims who made their way to the Americas, this documentary begins to unveil the true documented history of the Wampanoag Confederation and provides the viewer with a glimpse of the character and spirit of its people. It is a respectable introduction to the world of the Wampanoag of the 1600s, the diplomacy of its leader, the Grand Sachem, Massasoit (first known as Ousamequin or "Yellow Feather"), and it awakens uninformed viewers to the existence of modern Wampanoag communities.

The lives of the Separatists, later known as the Pilgrims, are brought to life. A comprehensive picture of their history, and how they came to their decision to immigrate to the Americas, is clearly and thoughtfully presented. They face persecution in England, and later endure adversity in the Netherlands. They make the decision to leave the Netherlands, where they are allowed to freely practice their religion, to traverse to the New World with the naive belief that this move will make their lives easier and eliminate unwanted outside influences on their children. As already known, the crossing was arduous, the Pilgrims were ill prepared for what they were to endure and by the time the Mayflower arrived in the New World, the Pilgrims were in bad shape.

Their first landing is on outer Cape Cod, near modern day Provincetown. They send a landing party ashore and find store of food left there by the Nausets, a war-like group of Indian who lived on Cape Cod. The Nausets have had men taken from their tribe by fishermen from Iceland and Greenland who made their way down the coast, and want no contact with the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims get into a skirmish with them and decide not to stay there. They make their way across Cape Cod Bay and arrive at present day Plymouth, known to the Indians as Patuxet.

They believe that the will of God will protect them because their motive for going to the world is noble and they have a plan to propagate the gospel to the American Natives, who they consider to be 'savages'.

It is winter and the Pilgrims try to make rudimentary structures but too many are sick and are unable to assist with the work of building structures. They manage to build some houses but have little food and many die that first terrible winter. When the Spring arrives, they are down to a little over 50 men and just 7 women.

The Pilgrims' relationship with Tisquantum, more commonly known as Squanto, is shown. Squanto was one of the last citizens of Patuxet, the place the Pilgrims inhabit and call Plymouth. The Indians who lived in Patuxet died due to a plague that swept through the area from 1616-1619. This plague happened long before the Pilgrims arrive but was instrumental in allowing the Pilgrims to establish their colony. Squanto and another brave named Samoset help the Pilgrims, who the Indians regard as sickly and in terrible shape.

There are overviews of actual meetings that the Pilgrims had with the Wampanoag Indians such as the meeting with Massasoit and the encounter with Samoset, a Wabanaki Sachem who spoke English. Samoset is thought to have been called upon by Massasoit to serve as a diplomat to pave the way for a relationship between the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims.

Squanto is accurately portrayed as interpreter for Massasoit during the scene when the Wampanoag leaders are discussing how they should proceed with the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims are in terrible shape and need the assistance of the native citizens in what is now Massachusetts. Squanto advocates for the Pilgrims, telling Massasoit that they are sick and have little knowledge of how to grow food or what will grow well in their new homeland. Massasoit makes a great offer to the Pilgrims, allowing them to have the land where the Plymouth Colony is located. He
tells them of the sickness that swept the Indians from Patuxet and that they consider that area to be bad. He further tells them that all who live there die and if they want the land in Patuxet, they are welcome to it as his people see that place as cursed.

This terrible plague provides an opportunity for the Pilgrims, making it possible for them to settle as if the Patuxet Community had not perished due to disease, the Pilgrims would have found a thriving native community and likely have been told to go elsewhere.

The focus of the documentary is the Pilgrims and their plight but the viewer is left with a romanticized view of the 'harvest feast', the legendary event. It is something that we have come to accept and like many American legends, it has changed over the years. The details of how and what occurred have varied over the years, and the version most commonly accepted is what we prefer to think about at this time of year. The Pilgrims and Indians celebrating a large harvest feast after a long growing season in 1621, which allows the Pilgrims to become settlers of the new world....It is slightly romanticized and made tidy but essentially, it was that same story, just not as neatly told through the years. If any of us was able to go back in time, we would likely find history slightly different than we have been told.

The Thanksgiving Holiday that we celebrate to day also owes it's prominence on the American landscape to Abraham Lincoln, FDR and others who instituted it as a truly American Holiday and one that marks the end of Fall and the start of the Christmas season.

Now if we can just get the retailers to stop running it down with early sales, and get the radio stations to stop playing " All Christmas Music" format starting in early November, we would all be able to enjoy Thanksgiving for the wonderfully American Holiday it is....Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Navy Dad surprises his son by showing up at school upon returning from deployment overseas

A Navy Dad gets to come home and surprise his son....this tape is a few years old but the emotions expressed are still powerful.....After seeing the events of the past few days, I thought it was important to feature a happy moment, when a little boy got to welcome his Dad home...

Eleanor tells it like it is.....enclosed pictures tell the rest of the story

" The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps! ”

Eleanor Roosevelt - Diplomat, Humanitarian and First Lady (1933-45), wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd US president. (1884-1962)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Services for Lt. Robert M. Kelly, USMC today at Arlington National Cemetery


As I have witnessed, many of the readers of this blog hold the mission that our military undertakes as serious business. There can be no more serious business than putting men & women in the uniform of our country in harm's way. I deeply appreciate the support that each of us give to this mission.

Today, I was able to fulfill part of that mission by attending the funeral services for Lt. Robert M. Kelly, USMC today at the Fort Myer Chapel, located next to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC. I was able to do so because I work for an Airline since arriving back in Boston from Afghanistan, and they are the kind of company that not only allows you to get on a jet anytime you want to (or need to) but also encourages you to do so. I was encouraged to do this by my colleagues and it was approved by my supervisor. I thought about it and decided in a very short time, that it was the absolutely right thing to do, I can do it, and I should do it.

Monday Morning, Nov. 22nd, I got on a flight out of Boston and arrived at Reagan National Airport in just over an hour. Arlington National Cemetery is very close (2 1/2 miles) and I got a cab there. Of Course, the cabby didn't know about the location for the ceremony and he was able to bring me deep into the middle of Arlington National Cemetery. I got turned around for a minute and wound up back near the entrance. It gave me the opportunity to pay my respects to President Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy and their children who are buried there. The fact that this was November 22nd was not lost on me and seemed ironic that I would be travelling there to honor a Marine and still it happens to be November 22nd of all days. I also paid my respects at his brother's gravesites Senator Robert Kennedy and Senator Edward Kennedy. Each are buried close together near the front of the park.

Afterwards I had to find my way to the other side of the cemetery and was helped out by a park employee. I wound up on a brisk walk across Arlington National Cemetery, and emerged at the back gate which leads into Ft. Meyer. The Gate Guards pointed the way and the chapel was only 1000 yards across the base. I arrived slightly warm but no worse for the wear.

I was in line with hundreds of others, and spent part of my time speaking to young Marine Sgt. who was with friends who are also Marines, but were in civilian dress. The line was a who's-who of military with enough Two Star & Three Star Generals, Navy Captains, Marine Colonels and so many other officers that you could have filled an antique shop with all the brass. Many others there also including Policemen, Firemen and people from various groups to pay their respects. We were ushered in to the Chapel and directed to our seats by Marines as attendants. The Chapel is a bright and airy space, modern but at the same time, providing you with a sense of history.

The ceremony began with a presentation to Lt. Kelly's wife and family of the commendations awarded to him. A Purple Heart for wounds sustained in the battle he died in and a Navy/Marine Corps Commendation medal with Combat Distinguishing Device.authorized for valor (heroism) for a number of missions he accomplished including the one where he lost his life.

The services were very appropriate and the Navy Chaplain gave a great sermon about the meaning of how Christ died for us and he conquered death so that we would not need to be afraid. That Robert had simply gone on to eternal life with our Lord Jesus Christ and was waiting for friends & family when they got there. He ended his sermon with a traditional Irish Blessing (given in Gaelic) saying, " Farewell, God Bless you and see you when we meet again. "

The eulogies were given by his Brother, Capt. John Kelly, USMC and his father Lt. General John F. Kelly, USMC. His Brother went first and spoke about how his brother was a fine man, happy and as expected, the light of his families' life along with his bride, Heather. It was in the middle of his Brother's eulogy that I realized why I was drawn to be there on this day for this Marine.

Captain Kelly detailed about his Brother's career and spoke about the different assignments that Robert had held including Operation Iraqi Freedom, and specifically Operation Al Fajr in Fallujah in November 2004. It was at that moment that the Good Lord's desire to have me go became apparent to me. I was struck by the fact that not only had I been in Afghanistan with this splendid young Marine, but we had served together in Fallujah when I was there in 2004-2005. He & I were not personally acquainted, but we had served under the same Marine Command, and he was there providing security for me & my fellow Seabees. I found myself welling up and thanking the Lord for his will to push me to be there to honor this Marine as Robert was one of those who helped me while I was deployed.

His brother spoke about that the streets of our country and other countries around the world were guarded by United States Marines. He said that he was confident that the streets in Heaven were also guarded by United States Marines. He then stated, " And my Brother is one of those Marines, guarding the streets in heaven." Very touching and true, I am sure.

His father spoke next, saying first and foremost, that he was not there to eulogize his son. He stated "Anyone who is laid out for his final resting place dressed in the uniform of his country's finest, the United States Marines, and wrapped in his country's flag did not need eulogizing and his life's accomplishments are evident to all." Lt. General Kelly went on to describe that we as a country are at war with an enemy that will not go away and only wants our destruction and submission. He spoke eloquently regarding his opinion of the threat our nation faces and how that we as a country are protected by a small number of men & women who volunteer, give up their regular lives and go out to defend our nation against those who would do it harm. He said that many doubt our country but he said as long as our country produced men & women like those he spoke of, there was much hope that we would rid the world of the vile filth that wages terror against innocents.

His last statement was poignant as he described how as a Commander, he had to speak to many families and wounded Marines about the loss of their friends, sons, brothers, fathers and others. Each time, whether he wrote them a letter from overseas, or visited with them in person, he tried to imagine what they were going through and empathize with their loss.

He then stated, " I owe each and every one of them an apology as I could not imagine the depth of the pain they were going through as my wife and I have been going through it since we were notified of the loss of our son. It is unbearable. " His statement speaks volumes to a Father's love & pride for his son.

I was honored and privileged enough to be in attendance among many of our country's finest warriors, Robert's friends & family and felt that I had been called there by a force much greater than anything I can explain here with my paltry words. It was a moment I will not forget.

I had to leave at the end of the ceremonies as I had to catch the return flight to Boston and the services ended close to 2:10 with my return flight at just after 3:00. I was able to walk back across Arlington National Cemetery to the main entrance where they have cabs standing by. I imagined that somewhere in heaven, there was a Marine Lt. laughing as he watched this old Seabee hump his way back across the cemetery to the cab stand. I hope it provided all of them up there in heaven a good laugh. I regret that I was unable to attend the graveside ceremonies, but being there for his services was extraordinary. The time schedule only allowed me time to be there for the service in the chapel.

I caught a cab to the airport, checked in for the flight and was able to be back in my office in Boston by 17:00, no worse for the wear & tear but feeling that I had fulfilled and important mission Monday. Honoring one of our Country's finest, a warrior, son, brother, friend, husband and defender of our Flag.

There could be no finer mission than the one he fulfilled and I wanted to make sure I did not fail in my mission to honor him as we had shared many of the same places and experiences. He as a United States Marine and me, as a US Navy Seabee in Iraq and a contractor supporting the Marines at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. He & I share a bond that was not apparent until his passing but carried no less importance after his death than it did in life. We were brothers-in-arms and that was all that mattered.

Fair Winds & following seas, shipmate. Rest easy Marine, we have the watch.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Day....Remember those far from home.

On Thanksgiving Day remember those who are away and wish they were home... I spent last year overseas and it was a tough day to be far from home. The troops will be well fed and get a good meal but that is only part of what they need.....they miss being home and with those they love. God Bless our troops and all those who are in harm's way.

LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE - Something we see in the British Prime Minister David Cameron but sadly, not in our own President

LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE - To wit, Leading by example is not restricted to those in managerial roles. Employees can show leadership by example to their colleagues. And companies can show leadership by example with innovative products despite having no managerial authority over their markets… Pure leadership means showing the way for others, either by example or by explicitly promoting a new direction.

We all intuitively know that leading by example is the most powerful form of leadership, but ironically it’s often the most overlooked. As Mahatma Gandhi once said “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Leading by example is something that we can all do, no matter our role, no matter our position. We can all make the choice and take responsibility to be the change we want to see. We can all take initiative, we can all make the decision to “show the way for others”.

LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE....something that is sorely needed and absent in our President. He recently declared Washington, DC as " too partisan " but spent the last 18 months being advised by Rahm Emmanuel, " MR. PARTISAN " personified....so again, we have a President who lives by the rule of " DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO.." - True to form for the "empty suit in residence" at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Now, let's look across the pond to our British Allies. The newly elected leader of the UK, Mr. David Cameron

From the website of the
British Conservative Party

"David Cameron became Prime Minister in May 2010 after a General Election in which the Conservative Party won almost 100 additional seats. He leads a Conservative / Liberal Democrat Coalition Government inspired by the values of freedom, fairness and responsibility.

This was the first time in over a half a century that two British parties had come together to put forward a programme for partnership government - to provide Britain with a strong and progressive government, and to put aside party differences to work for the common good and national interest.

David Cameron's philosophy has always been making sure people are in control and that politicians are their servants, not their masters. His belief in social responsibility, not state control, as the best way to solve problems is already evident in the decisions he has made since the General Election."

The difference between our President and Mr. Cameron is wholly apparent. Mr. Cameron has the good sense to know that cancelling a lavish Holiday at a time his own people are under difficult economic conditions demonstrates true leadership....He understands the perception that this could cause and he makes the right choice."

Our President ??? Nope, parties on, allows the wife to party in Europe this summer as he has NO CLUE as to how bad things are for those effected by the recession...He feels that sacrifices are for those who aren't privileged enough to be like him...a member of the elite inside group.

The President and his wife could have spent their summer vacations on the Gulf Coast, in California where things are tough...Nope, they had to send FLOTUS to Europe and vacation on Martha's Vineyard.....clueless and foolish....a terrible example.of what a LEADER should do when things are tough.

I value the Brits as they are our truest Allies. The President has treated them with disdain...

I salute Mr. Cameron and The British People...Good Show...I was glad to stand tall with our British Allies while I was in Afghanistan and always. Brilliant....They are just bloody brilliant.

David Cameron cancels Thailand holiday

Nov. 21, 2010

David Cameron has decided to cancel his family holiday to Thailand because of concerns about how the public would react, according to reports.

Human rights groups warned Mr Cameron his holiday would be seen as tacit backing of the Thai government's policies, while some commentators suggested he had chosen the country because he was friendly with its old-Etonian prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The human rights issue entered Mr Cameron's thinking as he reached the conclusion he had to cancel the trip, but was not the decisive factor.

Instead, he was said to have been worried about the impact it would have on his image and was unsure how the electorate would view the lavish holiday at a time when his government was making widespread spending cuts.

.Mr Cameron would have paid for the trip himself, but his advisers warned him he risked looking out of touch with the public and unsympathetic to the plight of people struggling to cope with the effects of the country's economic problems.

The prime minister is known to be keen to distance himself from the Conservative Party's long-standing reputation for being uncaring, but recently faced criticism when he hired an official photographer using public money.

He eventually backtracked and moved the snapper to the Tory payroll, following complaints it looked bad at a time when so many public sector workers were concerned about their jobs

Read more: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/847869-david-cameron-cancels-thailand-holiday#ixzz15wXKwzXM

GREEDY BASTARDS - U.S. investigating Vast Insider Trading Probe - WSJ

GREEDY BASTARDS...if it isn't UNION thugs, Teachers, Public Employees (FED, STATE & LOCAL), it is the ones who work on WALL STREET that can try to get away with this SHITE...

I for one am SICK to DEATH of watching the average citizen who works hard, pays taxes, plays by the rules and does the RIGHT THING get screwed over by these bastards....I say throw the bums in Jail...Public Employees use the system to get all they can, they are no different than these Bastards and to see this kind of wanton greed makes me sick.

I swore an oath to protect the country with my life and even though I have retired, that solemn oath is no less in effect today - I still hold fast to that oath

" I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

Maybe part of the problem with our country is that many of the citizens who think they can rig the system never dedicated themselves to anything BUT themselves....Those of us who have dedicated our lives to the greater good, service to our Country and taken a solemn oath hold that oath to mean more to us than any amount of $$$$ could ever mean.

I spoke to a lady from the OPM when I got my Military Clarence renewed...she asked if I could tell her about myself and why I should be trusted with renewed clearance.....I told her that even if she placed several million dollars on the table, and all I had to do was take it for something like info, why would I value my word so cheaply?? My family has been in Massachusetts since 1635 - 14 generations. Even if you offered me vast sums of $$$, where would I go?? My whole life is here and my family's heritage is tied to Boston. All I am is here. Visiting other places is fine but no amount of $$$ could get me to turn my back on my country, my home or my family.

Unfortunately, this is NOT how others operate and that is a sad fact. We have too many people who were raised without a "moral compass" and the GREED that is exhibited by the popular culture in movies, music (especially the urban hip-hop crowd) is sickening....Oprah is a perfect example of that....her sickening display of "her favorite things" is more greed on display as she hands out stuff, and people show that "things" matter more than having honor or pride in what you are ....it is sad to see that many in our country have become self-centered and greedy, like Oprah...She likes to "act" as if she is helping but it is really all about her & the way that material wealth is more important than anything to her....sickening. She honors idjits like JAY-Z, a former drug dealer and hip-hop mogul who sells the image that $$$, guns & drugs make you successful....truly sickening and without any integrity....and she HONORS him as a "role model" - Really?? how stupid can you get?

Many in this world would sell their own Mother for $$$ and the things that go with having wealth but to me, it would be hollow and empty. $$$ is fine BUT my HONOR is worth more than all the $$$ you could possibly place in front of me...nope, sorry -my integrity is not for sale.

Let's hope they catch the bastards and string em up by their imported Italian shoes!

NOVEMBER 20, 2010.

U.S. in Vast Insider Trading Probe


Federal authorities, capping a three-year investigation, are preparing insider-trading charges that could ensnare consultants, investment bankers, hedge-fund and mutual-fund traders and analysts across the nation, according to people familiar with the matter.

The criminal and civil probes, which authorities say could eclipse the impact on the financial industry of any previous such investigation, are examining whether multiple insider-trading rings reaped illegal profits totaling tens of millions of dollars, the people say. Some charges could be brought before year-end, they say.

The investigations, if they bear fruit, have the potential to expose a culture of pervasive insider trading in U.S. financial markets, including new ways non-public information is passed to traders through experts tied to specific industries or companies, federal authorities say.

One focus of the criminal investigation is examining whether nonpublic information was passed along by independent analysts and consultants who work for companies that provide "expert network" services to hedge funds and mutual funds. These companies set up meetings and calls with current and former managers from hundreds of companies for traders seeking an investing edge.
.Among the expert networks whose consultants are being examined, the people say, is Primary Global Research LLC, a Mountain View, Calif., firm that connects experts with investors seeking information in the technology, health-care and other industries. "I have no comment on that," said Phani Kumar Saripella, Primary Global's chief operating officer. Primary's chief executive and chief operating officers previously worked at Intel Corp., according to its website.

In another aspect of the probes, prosecutors and regulators are examining whether Goldman Sachs Group Inc. bankers leaked information about transactions, including health-care mergers, in ways that benefited certain investors, the people say. Goldman declined to comment.

Independent analysts and research boutiques also are being examined. John Kinnucan, a principal at Broadband Research LLC in Portland, Ore., sent an email on Oct. 26 to roughly 20 hedge-fund and mutual-fund clients telling of a visit by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"Today two fresh faced eager beavers from the FBI showed up unannounced (obviously) on my doorstep thoroughly convinced that my clients have been trading on copious inside information," the email said. "(They obviously have been recording my cell phone conversations for quite some time, with what motivation I have no idea.) We obviously beg to differ, so have therefore declined the young gentleman's gracious offer to wear a wire and therefore ensnare you in their devious web."

.The email, which Mr. Kinnucan confirms writing, was addressed to traders at, among others: hedge-fund firms SAC Capital Advisors LP and Citadel Asset Management, and mutual-fund firms Janus Capital Group, Wellington Management Co. and MFS Investment Management. SAC, Wellington and MFS declined to comment; Janus and Citadel didn't immediately comment. It isn't known whether clients are under investigation for their business with Mr. Kinnucan.

The investigations have been conducted by federal prosecutors in New York, the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Representatives of the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office, the FBI and the SEC declined to comment.

Another aspect of the probe is an examination of whether traders at a number of hedge funds and trading firms, including First New York Securities LLC, improperly gained nonpublic information about pending health-care, technology and other merger deals, according to the people familiar with the matter.

Some traders at First New York, a 250-person trading firm, profited by anticipating health-care and other mergers unveiled in 2009, people familiar with the firm say.

A First New York spokesman said: "We are one of more than three dozen firms that have been asked by regulators to provide general information in a widespread inquiry; we have cooperated fully." He added: "We stand behind our traders and our systems and policies in place that ensure full regulatory compliance."

Key parts of the probes are at a late stage. A federal grand jury in New York has heard evidence, say people familiar with the matter. But as with all investigations that aren't completed, it's unclear what specific charges, if any, might be brought.

.The action is an outgrowth of a focus on insider trading by Preet Bharara, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney. In an October speech, Mr. Bharara said the area is a "top criminal priority" for his office, adding: "Illegal insider trading is rampant and may even be on the rise." Mr. Bharara declined to comment.

Expert-network firms hire current or former company employees, as well as doctors and other specialists, to be consultants to funds making investment decisions. More than a third of institutional investment-management firms use expert networks, according to a late-2009 survey by Integrity Research Associates LLC in New York.

The consultants typically earn several hundred dollars an hour for their services, which can include meetings or phone calls with traders to discuss developments in their company or industry. The expert-network companies say internal policies bar their consultants from disclosing confidential information.

Generally, inside traders profit by buying stocks of acquisition targets before deals are announced and selling after the targets' shares rise in value.

The SEC has been investigating potential leaks on takeover deals going back to at least 2007 amid an explosion of deals leading up to the financial crisis. The SEC sent subpoenas last fall to more than 30 hedge funds and other investors.

“Today two fresh faced eager beavers from the FBI showed up unannounced (obviously) on my doorstep thoroughly convinced that my clients have been trading on copious inside information.... We obviously beg to differ, so have therefore declined the young gentleman's gracious offer to wear a wire and therefore ensnare you in their devious web.” - John Kinnucan, of Broadband Research, in an Oct. 26 email to clients

Some subpoenas were related to trading in Schering-Plough Corp. stock before its takeover by Merck & Co. in 2009, say people familiar with the matter. Schering-Plough stock rose 8% the trading day before the deal plan was announced and 14% the day of the announcement. Merck said it "has a long-standing practice of fully cooperating with any regulatory inquiries and has explicit policies prohibiting the sharing of confidential information about the company and its potential partners."

Transactions being focused on include MedImmune Inc.'s takeover by AstraZeneca Plc in 2007, the people say. MedImmune shares jumped 18% on Apr. 23, 2007, the day the deal was announced. A spokesman for AstraZeneca and its MedImmune unit declined to comment.

Investigators are also examining the role of Goldman bankers in trading in shares of Advanced Medical Optics Inc., which was taken over by Abbott Laboratories in 2009, according to the people familiar with the matter. Advanced Medical Optics's shares jumped 143% on Jan. 12, 2009, the day the deal was announced. Goldman advised MedImmune and Advanced Medical Optics on the deals.

A spokesman for AstraZeneca and its MedImmune unit declined to comment.

In subpoenas, the SEC has sought information about communications—related to Schering-Plough and other deals—with Ziff Brothers, Jana Partners LLC, TPG-Axon Capital Management, Prudential Financial Inc.'s Jennison Associates asset-management unit, UBS AG's UBS Financial Services Inc. unit, and Deutsche Bank AG, according to subpoenas and the people familiar with the matter.

Representatives of Ziff Brothers, Jana, TPG-Axon, Jennison, UBS and Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

Among hedge-fund managers whose trading in takeovers is a focus of the criminal probe is Todd Deutsch, a top Wall Street trader who left Galleon Group in 2008 to go out on his own, the people close to the situation say. A spokesman for Mr. Deutsch, who has specialized in health-care and technology stocks, declined to comment.

Prosecutors also are investigating whether some hedge-fund traders received inside information about Advanced Micro Devices Inc., which figured prominently in the government's insider-trading case last year against Galleon Group hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam and 22 other defendants.

Fourteen defendants have pleaded guilty in the Galleon case; Mr. Rajaratnam has pleaded not guilty and is expected to go to trial in early 2011.

Among those whose AMD transactions have been scrutinized is hedge-fund manager Richard Grodin. Mr. Grodin, who received a subpoena last fall, didn't return calls. An AMD spokesman declined to comment.

Write to Susan Pulliam at susan.pulliam@wsj.com, Michael Rothfeld at michael.rothfeld@wsj.com, Jenny Strasburg at jenny.strasburg@wsj.com and Gregory Zuckerman at gregory.zuckerman@wsj.com

Saturday, November 20, 2010



RESTREPO is a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, "Restrepo," named after a platoon medic who was killed in action. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military. This is an entirely experiential film: the cameras never leave the soldiers; there are no interviews with generals or diplomats. The only goal is to make viewers feel as if they have just been through a 90-minute deployment. This is war, full stop. The conclusions are up to you.

These Men gave you a year of their lives to go into one of the deadliest places in the world, with many giving the ultimate sacrifice.

Please give them 90 minutes of yours and watch this incredible movie. You will be in awe of their sacrifices, dedication to our country and each other.